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Magnus Pacific Corporation v. Advanced Explosives Demolition, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 15, 2014

MAGNUS PACIFIC CORPORATION, a California corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCED EXPLOSIVES DEMOLITION, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendant. ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Intervener,

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

The Court has before it Plaintiff Magnus Pacific Corporation's Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 40) of this Court's Order granting Defendant Advanced Explosives Demolition partial judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 39). In the interest of avoiding further delay and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will address and resolve this motion without a hearing. Therefore, having carefully reviewed the record, the Court enters the following Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Magnus Pacific Corporation ("Magnus Pacific") is a remediation and geotechnical contractor serving private and public sector clients. Defendant Advanced Explosives Demolition, Inc. ("AED") is an explosives demolition contractor. In 2012, Magnus Pacific contacted AED regarding demolishing two buildings as part of an ongoing remediation project at the Boise White Paper ("BWP") plant in St. Helens, Oregon. On April 20, 2012, the parties entered into a contract (hereinafter "demolition services contract") for the implosion of a recovery boiler located at the BWP site. On August 14, 2012, the recovery boiler was imploded. The implosion caused significant damage to other structures at the plant.

In February 2013, Magnus Pacific filed the instant suit against AED, bringing claims for breach of contract, negligence, strict liability, intentional misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation. On October 7, 2013, AED filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, seeking dismissal of Magnus Pacific's strict liability and negligent misrepresentation claims. (Dkt. 28.) Briefing on AED's motion was completed by November 18, 2013. On May 5, 2014, this Court entered an order granting AED's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and dismissing Magnus Pacific's strict liability and negligent misrepresentation claims with prejudice. (Dkt. 39.) Magnus Pacific here seeks reconsideration of the Court's decision with respect to its strict liability claim, but does not challenge the Court's dismissal of its negligent misrepresentation claim.[1]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Local Rules provide for a motion to reconsider. However, the Ninth Circuit has stated that motions to reconsider should be treated as motions to alter or amend under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Sierra On-Line, Inc. v. Phoenix Software, Inc., 739 F.2d 1415, 1419 (9th Cir. 1984). Reconsideration of a final judgment under rule 59(e) is an "extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources." Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citation omitted). As a result, the Ninth Circuit has identified three reasons sufficient to warrant a court's reconsideration of a prior order: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the discovery of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error. Id .; see also 389 Orange Street Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999). Whether or not to grant reconsideration is committed to the sound discretion of the court. Navajo Nation v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, 331 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Kona Enter., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883 (9th Cir. 2000)).

ANALYSIS

Magnus Pacific seeks reconsideration of the dismissal of its strict liability claim on the basis of newly discovered evidence. Specifically, Magnus Pacific argues the recent deposition of AED's vice president establishes, or at least raises a genuine issue of material fact to suggest, that the parties agreed strict liability would apply to AED's blasting operations. This Court granted AED judgment on the pleadings with respect to Magnus Pacific's strict liability claim, primarily because the parties agreed Idaho law applies to this dispute and Idaho does not recognize strict liability for claims involving personal services absent a relevant product. Hoffman v. Simplot Aviation, Inc., 539 P.2d 584, 587 (Idaho 1975); Britton v. Dallas Airmotive, Inc., 2010 WL 797177, at *17 (D. Idaho 2010).

Although it conceded the application of Idaho law to this dispute, Magnus Pacific, in its response to AED's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, argued that the demolition services contract explicitly recognized that AED's services were subject to strict liability, citing section GC4. (Dkt. 32, pp. 3-4.) This provision states, in relevant part:

In consideration of the strict liability nature of many of AED's operations, the parties hereto agree that this agreement shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with laws of Kootenai County, ID and subject to prime agreement.

(Dkt. 1, p. 14.)

Magnus Pacific did not argue that the demolition services contract was ambiguous with respect to strict liability, but instead contended that AED expressly conceded, in the aforementioned provision, the strict liability nature of its business activities in its contract with Magnus Pacific. (Dkt. 32, pp. 3-4.) Because other jurisdictions impose strict liability for demolition work while Idaho does not, and because the contract contained an Idaho choice of law provision, the Court interpreted section GC4 as simply insulating AED from the strict liability another jurisdiction's law may impose. (Dkt. 39, pp. 9-10.)

In its Motion for Reconsideration, Magnus Pacific highlights an additional provision of the demolition services contract (not referenced in the briefing on the dismissal motion) which supports its contention that AED agreed to be subject to strict liability. Specifically, ...


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